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Haruki Murakami Festival in Manila receives overwhelming applause

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Alona Guevarra
MANILA (March 28, 2018): The Japan Foundation, Manila is pleased to announce that the first ever Haruki Murakami Festival in Manila has been successfully implemented from February to March 2018 with more than 3,000 audience members. Showcasing Haruki Murakami, the festival consists of a series of free events categorized in four segments where participants enjoyed the world of one of the world’s best-selling and most popular Japanese contemporary novelists.
1. Talk about Murakami
Three talk sessions have captured hardcore fans of Murakami, also known as Harukists, to first-time readers or even the most reluctant of readers. Kicking-off the Festival, Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) English professor Alona Guevarra, whose areas of specialization include Haruki Murakami Studies, lead the introductory talk for the Festival together with instructor Julz Riddle.
They discussed the popularity and global appeal of Murakami on February 27, 2018 at Leong Hall, ADMU. It was followed by an overview and sneak preview of other elements of the Festival, including a piano performance by award-winning pianist April Dawnena Merced-Misa, who took part in the Listen to Murakami segment.
In partnership with Fully Booked, two other talks were held at Fully Booked, Bonifacio High Street Branch. On March 17, 2018, Palanca award-winning Filipino writers have talked about Murakami’s story, writing style, and social influence and on March 18, 2018, three Filipino writers and running enthusiasts talked about Murakami’s work and his dedication to running, as inspired by Murakami’s memoir “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.”
2. Watch Murakami
Two award-winning film adaptations of Murakami’s works, “Norwegian Wood” and “Tony Takitani,” were screened at the UP Film Institute, University of the Philippines Diliman on March 15-16, 2018 as part of the Festival to watch and experience the film interpretation of the Murakami world. The full-house screening of “Norwegian Wood” was attended by more than 850 audience members.
Directed by Tran Anh Hung, “Norwegian Wood” is one of Murakami’s most well-known international best-selling novels which was published in 1987 in Japan. The 2010 films shows a sensitive portrayal of the inner anguish of a young man who is torn between two completely different women.
Released in 2005, “Tony Takitani” was directed by Jun Ichikawa. Based on a Murakami’s short elegant story, the film starring Issey Ogata and Rie Miyazawa tells the story of a lonely man who finds love.
3. Listen to Murakami
Murakami’s passion for music is intense. It is well-known that he used to run a small jazz bar for several years, and he weaves in various musical references in his novels.
The Japan Foundation, Manila brought two-night live concerts that featured music woven in Murakami’s novels on March 23, 2018 and March 24, 2018 at the BGC Performing Arts Center in Taguig City. Curated by professor Junichi Konuma who specializes on music culture, the concert intertwines the spoken word read by David Ezra with different genres of music played by jazz pianists Hiroko Kokubo and her trio, and the Beatles-inspired classical ensemble, 1966 Quartet, in special collaboration with pianist April Dawnena Merced-Misa.
The concert received a standing ovation with 600 full-house audience members in both shows. When Hiroko Kokubu Special Trio played Penny Lane and improvised Lerong-Lerong Sinta, the Filipino audience members sang along and cheered loudly.
4. Write about Murakami  
A total of 64 participants submitted their entries on their favorite Murakami story with reason. Judged based on content and number of Facebook shares and likes, the winners were:
1st place: Jules Mañalac
2nd place: Louise Del Rosario
3rd place: Ms. Denise Ann Florendo
Tetsuya Koide, Jules Mañalac, Louise Del Rosario, Hiroaki Uesugi

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